As an educational outreach green building company we are always combining education with real world green building jobs in Brooklyn. This means we have unpaid interns training on a job site that is making profit for the company.
This is a tricky situation. On one hand the interns have very little experience and need a lot of training. They can get in the way and even make costly mistakes.
On the other hand they are an unpaid helping hand that can be very useful when doing a big job.
We follow the following guidelines with interns on our job sites:
1. The training is similar to that which would be given in a vocational school;
2. The training is for the benefit of the trainee;
3. The trainees do not displace regular employees, and work under close observation;
4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the trainees and on occasion the employer’s operations may actually be impeded.
This assures we get a steady stream of eager interns because they know they will derive benefit from the job and not simply be free slaves.
Our interest in interns is primarily as an outreach tool. It keeps us connected to potential future employees and the network of connections they may have. They usually come from a non-profit training organization who also has connections. And of course the bottom line is that it is important to educate and connect with the community and this is our way of doing that.